Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blessings Beyond Nature

Reb Mendel Kaplan zt"l once explained how the blessings of great people work: It's not easy to give a bracha: it's like writing out cheques from your own bank account. In his later years, the Chofetz Chaim was once approached by someone for a bracha, and the Chofetz Chaim told him: "I can't give everything away; I have to leave a little for myself".

In order to fulfill a blessing, Hashem has to rearrange His previous plan for the benefit of the person being blessed, which is almost like making a change in the Creation itself. Such a feat requires great merit.

If, however, someone relies totally on Hashem and lives without making his own plans, then when he gives a bracha, it's different.

Most people live their lives according to a certain pattern: a time for eating, a time for sleeping, and so on. When someone entirely ignores his own personal needs and serves Hashem with no personal plans, then in return Hashem overrides the natural order of the universe, so to speak, and grants this person's requests. Such a person's blessings are fulfilled without taking anything away from his "account".

That is why the Chofetz Chaim used to send people to Reb Yisrael Yaakov for blessings. Reb Yisrael Yaakov was a person who lived without making any calculations - everything he did, even if it embarrassed him or put his health in danger, was for Hashem's sake. A blessing given by someone like that has a power far beyond the natural order of creation. That's what the Gemara (Berachos 20a) means when it says "What's the difference between former times, when miracles were done, and our times, when they are not? In former times, people served Hashem with total dedication, so He did miracles for them." When Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi did mitzvos, he didn't take his personal interests or his own safety into account.

*Rabbi Yisrael Mendel Kaplan (1913 - 1985) (yarzheit 13 Nissan) known as "Reb Mendel" served as a teacher in the Hebrew Theological College in Chicago and in the Philadelphia Yeshiva to many of the men who were to become the leaders of Orthodox American Jewry.

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